15 years in the making: American Dream is now open. Here is what’s next

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Thousands of people came out this weekend to experience the American Dream mega mall.

According to an American Dream estimate, about 2,500 people attended the opening Friday.

The Nickelodeon Universe theme park and NHL-sized ice skating rink were open, but about half of the three dozen rides were closed.

RELATED: American Dream megamall opens after 15 years in the making 

The amusement park and professional-size ice rink are only a small portion of the mall.

Mall managers unveiled details for a string of opening celebrations, described as "chapters." The water park will open in November, followed by the indoor snow park in December. The rest of the mall will open next March, including the 350 stores and 100 dining options.

Chapter 2: November -- DreamWorks Waterpark.

Chapter 3: December -- Big SNOW.

Chapter 4: March 2020 – Shops, dining options, and much more!

GUIDE: The American Dream opening. Here is everything you need to know 

Crews broke ground in 2004, and after 15 years of delays and ownership changes, it finally opened.

Gov. Phil Murphy was on hand Friday, along with Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco and other elected officials for the grand opening.

The project was suspended in 2009 during the financial crisis after a Lehmann Bros. affiliate failed to fund its share of the construction. Creditors seized the project in 2010, and Triple Five came on board a year later, renaming it American Dream.

Triple Five reimagined American Dream as a community hub for tourists and locals, taking a page from two other malls it had developed, West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada and Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota - the two largest malls in North America. Entertainment was a big selling point for both, accounting for 20% of the West Edmonton Mall's space and 30% of Mall of America's. That compares with the 6% average for U.S. malls, according to CoStar.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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